Chapter 2: Trial through Divination

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Chapter 2: Trial through Divination

Post  Neutral Contrast on Thu Apr 19, 2012 4:45 am

“Lo, through these fields bathed in flame
Dos't wait the one that stands alone.
Whether glory be that, of his, in name
Matters not, for it's glory set in stone.
The arena of Gods lays the steps which he walks
The champion approaches in strides
Anon, for his victory shall not be a shock
T'was Divinas' will, like the tides.”

~Rites of the chosen: The Arena

“Did you hear? It seems Elder Azhu took ill, so the prophet took his place for the fating.”

“You mean... Euclis? Eugh, he's the only one who can substitute, I understand... but whenever he's near I feel... uncomfortable.”

“Understandably so, he's the only man in recent history to withstand the trials for becoming a prophet, so everyone's a bit nervous around him.”

“It could be that... It's not like that absent stare helps though, I always feel like my soul's being judged.”



Chapter 2: Trial Through Divination



Eager would be a word best used to describe the spectators of the arena that day, or rather an understatement as shouts rang throughout the massive stadium. Locals of Arcana, along with pilgrims and few other travelers, rose from their seats with anticipation to watch their favorites among the contestants engage in combat for the favor of their deities, and their hopes were met as, in the middle of the arena, a large, wooden stage rose from beneath the earth, and with it, 12 fervent, young warriors at the peak of their prime. Parents and siblings could be seen shouting out the names of their loved ones, hoping their cries could aide in the trials yet to come, but the majority's favorite remained clear, as her named drowned the competitors with excited echoes.

“Inaris!” Screamed the young men of past tournaments, in spite of their dishearteningly low odds at attaining suitor status.

“Nephiri, Get 'em!” Cried out a dozen or so young women, unable to enter the fray after failing to qualify.

“Don't let your guard down, Neph!” Cecilia's faint attempts at encouragement could barely be heard over the crowd, though her side made itself painfully open as Renoris' piercing whistle cut through the noise.

Yes, 12 capable competitors stood proudly on a stage, with nine of which, typically, followed a similar cut. Athletic, well-trained young men, dressed very formally and raised for this day by tutors hoping to claim their fame through their students. But among them, three broke the chain, and eyes remained peeled on these oddities amidst the norm. In the very middle of the group, between two of the average contestants, and utterly overshadowed by her shorter stature, stood Nephiri, her hair and figure nearly concealed entirely by a dirty, green-tan cloak. She stood silently in confidence among the other combatants as they waved and shouted to the crowd. Calmly, she smiled and looked towards Renoris and Cecilia, nodding slightly before closing her eyes and grinning before returning to her focus.

The most confusing sight among them stood at the far left of the group, or rather the two most confusing sights. Beside another cookie-cutter combatant, a young woman of uniquely pristine visage stood. She stood several inches above Nephiri, her blazing orange eyes keeping level with most of the men on the stage, as she looked forward, almost blankly. Her long, curling red locks were fronted with an ornate hybrid of a standard combat helmet and a tiara, decorated with rubies which reflected strongly the desert sun high above them. She adorned a heavy looking raiment of red and gold, which shone nearly as strong as her tiara, and just beside her, with a height just barely breaking the bottom end of her full-torso breastplate, stood a young, fragile looking boy.

The child was dressed in clothing even more ornate than the blazing woman beside him, wearing robes of green and silver, lined in all matter of precious gems and masterful stitching. The only piece of equipment that conflicted with his otherwise-noble appearance, perhaps, was the shishak covering his head as per the rules of the battlefield. In spite of the shouting and her blatant stare, it was obvious the woman's focus remained purely on this child... A pair, unrecognizable to the crowd before them.

Nephiri's own attention weaved in and out among her rivals on the stage. She recognized most of these competitors, and had sparred with many of them in the past... as their expressions made obvious, most of the young men on the stage who Nephiri would peer at discretely grew nervous. Her studious gaze left sweat on many a brow of the much less serious combatants, even moreso than the blazing sun beginning to rise overhead, yet the two anomalies in the lineup seemed completely calm and collected in spite of the situation. Strong-willed blue eyes veered to the far left of Nephiri's peripheral vision, noticing the extravagant attire of her two most mysterious opponents.

'I wonder if those two are the blunt, straightforward type. They certainly don't seem to pay any heed to being examined...' Nephiri thought silently as she scanned the woman clad in sunny armor, 'No... that can't be right though, if they weren't able to determine something so simple, there's no way they would've made it past the qualifiers. There's certainly a strong sense to her, especially.' She noted the woman's solid, unmoving stance, her left hand constantly at the hilt of a massive, sheathed sword at her side. In spite of her disinterest, her vigil was apparent and, in spite of her examiners, her focus remained uninterrupted.

The young Arcanian's inexperience left her exhausted trying to pinpoint her future opponent's weaknesses, but the sun-clad warrior remained steadfast. After several, painfully long seconds of trying to determine any fault in her stance or resolve, Nephiri sighed and took a moment to scratch her head before returning to her mission. Her studious gaze affixed itself to the child beside the ornate warrior, and immediately she felt a chill down her spine. Almost instantly after she began examining the boy, his companion's eyes shifted to Nephiri for a split second before returning to their objective. Her cloak rustled slightly as she stopped and turned her attention elsewhere. 'What... what was that? I feel as though I've just been interrogated... extensively...'

Nephiri pulled herself together, before closing her eyes and concentrating. For a moment, her breathing halted, as the sounds of the arena clarified and segregated themselves. The feel of the warm desert breeze on her face halted itself, before diminishing entirely. The scents carried on the wind remained, however, separating and distinguishing themselves for the silent examiner. Finally, her sight returned, bright and blurred at first, but significantly clearer after a couple of seconds. With her eyelids still shut, Nephiri peered on the finest aspects of her surroundings; the individual grains of sand at her feet were crystal clear, as well as the utter smallest beads of sweat on her rivals' skin. Out of body, she looked upon the sun-clad warrior again, with time halted for her gaze. She watched, as the moment replayed itself before her eyes, as her past self looked at the well-dressed lad. She examined the warrior, scrutinizing the single, split-second action as her opponent looked in her direction. The warrior's blade was halfway drawn, before the boy looked in the warrior's direction, his eyes disapproving of her actions. In that same moment, the warrior withdrew herself, sheathing the massive weapon and returning to her stubbornly immovable stance.

The event played itself before Nephiri several times over, as she watched her opponent's reaction like a hawk. After what seemed several hours, her breathing continued again. The environment's sounds and scents merged together seamlessly, as the wind returned to gently caress her skin. Nephiri pondered her discoveries, before returning her gaze to the boy.

'This... could be interesting. I wonder who this little boy is? To have such control over the situation, and ordering around a warrior of her stature...' Nephiri took the opportunity to finally get a detailed view of the child's face, and noticed hints of short, brown hair sticking out very slightly from beneath his helm. His chin had a slight cleft to it, with a weakly pointed nose and otherwise unimpressive facial features. His eyes were covered by an ornate hood, but for just a moment, she managed to get a glimpse...

'It... It can't be!' She thought, although the reality of the situation would have had it otherwise, Nephiri found herself standing out several feet in front of the other competitors. Her hasty movement caused her hood to fly back, revealing the dumbfounded and nervous expression beneath. The crowd looked at her wildly, along with most of the other competitors, but the child and warrior's act remained flawless, as they looked oblivious to the situation. An announcer for the competition had just begun making his way up the staircase onto the stage as Nephiri's bewilderment took place, fortunately covering her act in the process.

“Aha! It seems as though one of our competitors this year is so eager that she can scarcely contain her excitement! By the looks of things, ladies and gentlemen, this year's festival will certainly be enhanced by the power of youth, I hope you're all prepared!” A charismatic masculine voice boomed throughout the arena, reverberating as such that it seemed sourceless, a disembodied announcer in the minds of the spectators. Just then, a middle-aged man of average build walked onto the stage, up to the flustered young woman. Covering a small orb which hovered before him, he pat Nephiri's shoulder with his free hand to calm her down. “Those two look pretty strong, aye lass? By the looks of things, this tournament will definitely be one for the ages, so give 'em your best! For now though, lets step back into the lineup.” He spoke under his breath to avoid being heard throughout the stadium, though the several of the other competitors' faltering composures gave way to smirks and light chuckles as they listened in.

Nephiri shook her head to gather her bearings, and flipped up her hood to hide her embarrassment. “Th-thanks. Yeah, let's... get back to the show...”

“That's the spirit!” The announcer shouted unintentionally, his voice permeating the still air. “Whoops! Sorry about that, folks!” As he turned Nephiri around and walked with her back into line, she couldn't help but have her attention drawn to the young boy.

The announcer collected the crowd back to the competition with an extravagant display. “Now, humble spectators to the Divine's Stadium, without further ado-” He paused himself, spinning the small, floating orb about halfway and pressing on it with his thumb. A brilliant show of fireworks blasted from behind the lineup, showering the air with rich hues of reds, blues and greens. With each of the 7 explosions, symbols were formed from the sparks, and the competitors chanted names in sync with each.

A short string of symbols, colored blood red with white outlining it came first. “Elaria,” shouted the young men and two women below. The one young man standing beside Nephiri shouted alone, following it. “May our blood boil with enthusiasm, and our vision be clear, with this we ask your blessing!”

Next up was an explosion with several, multicolored symbols. “Sigrund,” Went the chant, and another young man standing at the far right of the group shouted. “Through your love with the Divine Elaria, came the birth of color and sound. May the music of our blades create sparks of passion, with your blessing!”

“Lapis, Arucroix, Y'huren, Chetaix,” The chants continued, each name ringing throughout the stadium with their own melodious tone as the competitors shouted in harmony. In the end, the 7th and final explosion appeared in the air, causing only a bright, white light without making any noise. A single, massive symbol, colored pure blue appeared for just a moment, before fading away.



“Divinas,” Shouted the competitors, as Nephiri took her own stance among the rest of her opponents. Her voice sent chills down the spines of many spectators, as she iterated the next set of verses. “Watch over us all in your omnipotence, and through you may we be drawn closer to the realm of Divine Light in which you rule, and call your home. Bring these warriors good fortune, for their battles to come, and grace us with your blessing.”

Renoris smirked as he watched his friend upstage her rivals. 'It's fitting, I suppose. She's been practicing her pitch for months... I think she even moved it up an octave.' He interpreted, before looking at his sister.

Cecilia's gaze was filled with anticipation and focus, accompanied by an otherwise dazed expression. She turned to her brother with immense speed, almost speechless as she composed her thoughts. “The great deity better be pleased with that. I'm not sure I've seen any of his verses sung so passionately.”

Renoris chuckled a bit at his sister's excitement. “Aye, this year should definitely have a good show...” then looked at the sun-clad woman and child at the far end of the roster. “I wonder how Neph plans on dealing with them...”

“Huh?” Cecilia inquired, unable to hear Renoris as he spoke under his breath.

“I said you're as competent at hearing as a sleeping scorpion covered in sand.”

Flustered, Cecilia and Renoris fought with each other as the announcer continued with the ceremony. “What... a spectacular recreation of the Warrior's Rites! As we all know, these were the exact verses sung by the blessed seven as they ascended to omnipotence, creating the basis for life, and destroying all malcontent in our precious lands. We all hope to put on a tournament worthy of their gaze, let alone the attention of the Gods whose sides they remain at to this very day! Now, as tradition would have it, let us introduce the young men and women who will be fighting for their amusement and approval!”

As the announcer walked up and down the line of combatants, the boastfulness of each increased drastically as they waited for their name to be on everyone's minds. Starting at the far right, he introduced a young man dressed in an ornate desert gown. “At the start of our roster, young Leiyo Amon. Known among his fellow trainees for his aggressive combat style and intimidating appearance with a battleaxe, you wouldn't guess that he's known as a rather suave charmer! As opposed to seeing him wait just to plan ahead, look forward to matches ending in the blink of an eye as he takes the stage. His current record for victory is 18 and a half seconds, and I'm sure his hopes are high for demolishing that record again today!” Cheers from the crowd rang throughout the stadium as Leiyo bowed for the audience, waving confidently to conclude his presentation. 5 others went through this process, with the crowds uproars escalating with each passing introduction, as the other competitors clapped for the sake of good sportsmanship.

“And here I may not be able to say 'last, but not least,' but I believe a well-to-do introduction is due for our most prized hunter! With several years of practice, refining her abilities in the harshest sands our desert has to offer, and even going so far as to venture off into the waylands of upwards of 80 miles out of our small sanctuary's borders, she has brought our up-and-coming hunters, both for sport and survival, countless, priceless pieces of information regarding the dangers that may await them. Her precision with the bow remains uncontested throughout the village, and you can be sure to see any opponent have difficulty engaging her agile combative techniques. So, without any further delay, the lead warrior in the qualifying rounds and our soon to be missed wayward thorn, Nephiri Inaris!” Renoris's whistling pierced the cheers which surrounded it, as Cecilia stood from her seat to shout words of encouragement. Nephiri's confidence held uptight, refusing to even allow her to blush at the flattery as she bowed serenely for the crowd. Coyly, she stepped back into the lineup, only to look up to her friends and smile before returning the attention to the rest of her rivals.

Gratuitously energized by the crowds enthusiasm, the emcee announced the next 3 combatants without a hitch, keeping the crowd anticipated for the events to come, at least until he came across the foreign woman dressed in heavy armor. “And here we have a new treat for your palettes, anxious stadium-goers! This year, we'll have two very capable warriors from lands outside of our humble village here to participate for Divinas' favor! First off, we have a young woman letting off an air of elegant strength, equipped with blade that looks large enough to cleave this very stage in one sweep! We are all quite curious, young lady, what would your name be?”

His target remained silent, however. In fact, she seemed imprudent to the events taking place around her, not even frustrated with the man's attempt to gain information. Desperate to keep the stage alive, the announcer looked at the woman's raiment for some form of identification. His fire seemed to be at its end, until the sun reflected upon a small, golden emblem on her breastplate. Quickly, he tried to determine its origin, without realizing that his peering lasted longer than he intended. The woman's oblivious expression turned sour, as her cheeks flushed a bright red. In a single, swift action, she pushed the hilt of her blade out with her thumb, shooting it directly at the man's knee.

Over the echoing transmission, a blunt crack was heard. The blade sheathed itself as it reflected from the blow, leaving the emcee silent in its wake. For several moments, he remained still, shocked by her reaction until finally, a loud scream pierced the stadium. The distress overloaded the floating orb before him, causing it to explode and knock him off balance. Most of the spectators and competitors covered their ears from the outburst, though Nephiri and Renoris kept their focus on the action.

'What... what was that?' Renoris pondered, dismayed by the outburst of an enemy his friend would soon be pitted against. 'It... It seemed like-'

'She was holding back.' thought Nephiri, her gaze just as affixed to the woman's hand lying calmly on her holster. Coming across such a disheartening revelation, Renoris began to pray for his friend's safety, concerning his sister in the process, even though Nephiri was affected differently. 'She shouldn't have done that,' continuing her thought, as a slight smirk hinted at the corner of her lips, 'Now... I have a gauge.'

For a couple minutes, the competitors waited patiently while the black smoke from the now-irreparable orb diminished. The distressed announcer pulled himself together, pulling out a new orb from his vest before continuing with the show... albeit with a slight limp. “Sorry about that, ladies and gentlemen! It appears I've made an,” he coughed, turning his statement, “I mean, we've had some technicalities, and I apologize for the wait! It seems as though our young warrior here would rather distinguish herself on that battlefield rather than through words. Keep in mind that she did manage to make it past the qualifiers, so we can certainly expect a good show from her, regardless!”

He moved on to the robed child at the end, “Something more interesting, it seems a young mind has managed to reserve a seat amongst our best contenders as well! I'm certain we have a prodigy among magi here, so if I may ask-” The announcer froze, however, as the young woman just beside him leered at his attempts coldly. Afraid of enduring further bodily injury, he stopped himself mid-sentence and redirected the statement. “Err actually, I'm certain it wouldn't be best to be privy to the secrets of a young prodigy, perhaps enforcing an air of mystery is an important weapon for this young one's arsenal, after all!” Quickly he squirreled his way to the center of the stage, the audience left dazed, yet still cheering for the sake of keeping their favorite contenders enthused. “There you have it, ladies and gentlemen! The capable combatants of our humble village, and more from beyond, all here to prove themselves for a chance at glory in view of our divine creator!”

Turning around in front of Nephiri, he covered the orb discretely as he whispered and pointed towards his pant leg, faintly bloodstained and covered with a flowing blue aura. His accent was heavy, entirely different from the voice over the transmission. “I'm a bit worried, lass. That blow shattered my entire kneecap into about twenty-three bits while barely breaking the skin. I could barely recover that enough in time to continue, and I'm the blasted caretaker!” He paused for a moment, “Just take care against those two, they're a brand of tough customer you don't see very often.”

“Thank you, Oren.” Nephiri whispered back, “I hope you recover safely, and I'll do what I can to make our village proud.”

“I'm more than sure of that, li'l lady! Just do your best to avoid having that cost you an arm or a leg while you're at it though.” Oren concluded, before uncovering the orb and returning to his act.

Oren gestured his hand toward the stairway that he took to enter the stage, where an elderly man slowly ascended with the assistance of a worn-looking staff. The wizened old man was clothed entirely in extravagant black robes, trimmed with shavings from blood-red rubies. His face was entirely concealed by a thick, black hood, yet he appeared to have no trouble walking with perfect coordination in the rising desert temperatures.

“Please pay your respects to our esteemed Prophet Euclis, who has volunteered his services in the ritualistic fating in place of our good Elder Azhu, who has fallen ill.” The stadium grew quiet, as the prophet took his seat, cross legged behind the competitors, now watching him patiently, in the very middle of the stage. He let go of the aged staff, yet it remained , standing and stationary at his side. In slow, patient movements, he lifted the hood of his robe, revealing a wrinkled, balded head with ancient facial features. His eyelids were closed all the while, as he closed the folds of his sleeves together, creating a loop with his arms.

The competitors all walked silently into their positions, surrounding the prophet in a perfect circle before simultaneously mimicking his sitting action. Each sat cross-legged, their arms in a loop and their hands clasped together as if in prayer. The audience watched, uninterested by the ritual which took place each year, yet still with bated breath over which combatants would be chosen first. For nearly an hour, the tension, as well as the temperature, increased within the confines of the stadium's stone walls. Not a single person on stage took action, though the rising sun began taking its toll on many of them in their heavy, formal clothing. In spite of this, Nephiri's battle-ready outfit kept her insulated, though the child and his companion also remained steadfast and patient, seemingly even refusing to sweat under the pressure.

Another hour passed, the midday sun now drowning the stadium's attendees in merciless waves of heat. Several of the competitors looked to be at their limit, but refused to cease remaining motionless. This was a trial that they were all well-aware of, and failing at such a crucial stage could prove fatal to their prides. Finally, after two hours of absolute inaction, the prophet's sleeves began to move, ever so slowly, in two different directions. His mouth opened, revealing the toothless gum line inside, and letting out an unexpected, unnatural voice.

“AS IT HAS BEEN DECIDED BY THE DIVINE PATRON OF DIRECTION AND FIDELITY, Y'HUREN HAS SPOKEN!” The old man shouted. The otherworldly reverberation in his words chilled the air, giving slight relief to some of the competitors, yet leaving them shaken nonetheless. His arms suddenly spanned out, pointing just off to his front-left with his right arm, and directly behind him with his left. The ease with which his arm shot out behind him left the young man it was aimed at with discomfort, it was as if his shoulder blade was completely removed, leaving the joint free to turn wherever it willed. “VASCH IMEYO, Y'HUREN HAS CHOSEN YOU AS THE FIRST ASSAILANT. DO YOU ACCEPT?” The prophet's chilling voice rang through the young man's head, silently attacking his will although, to the others, it was the same otherworldly voice as before.

The young man chosen took several moments, his brow dampened as his nerve was tested. Taking several deep breaths, he regained his composure only long enough to reply hastily. “I accept, revered deity!” The prophet's arm dropped back to his side, while Vasch's breaths remained ragged for several more minutes. Until this moment, the young woman warrior's composure seemed all but unassailable, yet the event which transpired before her left her shaken. Unlike the fear which wracked at Vasch's mind, however, her expression became filled with fiery rage.

The prophet's chilling voice rose again, “AND YOU...” Quickly, the woman's unease escalated in the face of this man, as his sleeve remained affixed in her direction. The child beside her seemed to disapprove of her reaction, but the situation had already become irreperable. “ELAINE S-”

It all happened within an instant, as the prophet's announcement was cut short by the young woman's holster swinging directly for his jaw.

“...W-What!?” Gasped the soft spoken woman's voice. As the edge of her sheathe shot within mere inches of the decrepit elder's face, his entire body suddenly convulsed, and within the instant, his neck contorted, pulling his skull downwards toward the face of his spine. Disgust furled itself in the young woman's brow, alongside the shock which hit her as the full body of her blade pulled her in with it's momentum, causing her to clumsily tumble behind the prophet, dropping her hefty weapon in the process.

Screams could be heard from many of the devout audience members, angered by the blasphemy committed on their only divine prophet. However, all that crossed their sights was this foreigner swinging her weapon, yet losing control in her haste and, consequently, crashing to the ground in a rather underwhelming fashion. The prophet, himself, had simply come to a halt with his statement, his arm still pointing towards the warrior's spot in the circle, yet inanimate. The entire act left Nephiri a little skeptical, however.

'Did she halt her attack to avoid worsening the situation?' Her mind was left in a blur, concerned with the status of her rival, fallen to the ceramic tiles nearby. 'Her intention seemed clear, though... And what in the world was... 'that'?' Nephiri reviewed over the situation several times, yet all that came to memory was a haze in the moment of the assault, as if her sight had halted as the attack reached its climax. Curious, she looked at the little boy to determine if his reaction could give some hint of what had taken place. His expression only filled her with more concern, however.

The child remained entirely still, not budging from his steadfast position, yet beneath the hood concealing almost his entire face, he stared at the prophet, appalled. Nephiri looked, again towards the elderly man at the center of the ring, though he remained as stiff as the stones upon which he sat. As she examined, a familiar rustling sound came from behind the old man, as Elaine recovered from her dive. She propped herself on one arm, pounding her left fist into the ground as she slowly lifted her torso from the ground. Her head turned, almost as if she was in pain as the warrior tried to get a look at her target.

Elaine froze, filled with fear as her gaze was met with ghastly, black holes. The prophet's neck, now bent backwards nearly 180 degrees, seemed snapped, almost intentionally. Ominous, pitch black smoke poured from the sockets where eyes might have once resided, leaving a thin trail which dissolved as it approached the ground. His mouth gaped wide open, as his black eye sockets focused a deathly chill towards his assaulter.

Suddenly, a ghastly shriek permeated the yelling voices around the stadium. Elaine's hands clasped the sides of her temple, as blood curdling cries escaped her throat. Tears flowed powerfully from her eyes, their lids torn apart from each other as their focus never left the upper of the prophet's back. All throughout the arena, the unaware bystanders watched the prophet's terrorized assaulter, covering their children's ears or beckoning them to look away from the horrific display. The circle of combatants remained still, though their nervousness could practically be felt amidst all the tension. Several young men watched anxiously, their quivering of their spines escalating as Elaine's screams died down to mere whimpers with her exhausted voice. Gasping for air, yet unable to catch her breath, her energy quickly dwindled and forced her to find comfort in unconsciousness.

The tension came to a halt, yet still the stadium seemed frozen over where the warrior's body laid, eerily still on the ground just behind the prophet. For several moments, everyone seemed at a loss of words or action, not entirely certain what they had witnessed nor how to act on it, so their apprehension kept them from making any possibly rash decisions. This held especially true for the competitors who, not knowing the prophet or his habits very well, worried that the entire act may have been a test to determine their resolve. Even the child's will to refuse moving seemed infallible, though his expression might have said otherwise.

Nephiri's worry only rose drastically, however, and after a minute of watching such a capable rival left helpless nearby, her instinct overtook her desire to partake in the usual traditional procedures. Slowly, she pushed herself up from the ground, respectfully keeping her hands locked together in prayer as she walked before a small line of the competitors to reach Elaine. The attention of everyone in the arena quickly shifted to her, though her calm disposition seemed to upset the nerves of her viewers even more than they would have been otherwise. Coming up to the unconscious warrior, Nephiri made a slight bow towards the Gods' ambassador before her, before slowly re-seating herself cross-legged beside Elaine.

Her voice was soft, yet stern. “Please excuse my actions, good prophet. I do not believe that our divine patron Arucroix would be satisfied allowing one of Divinas' children to sustain whatever is tormenting this warrior's soul.” Hesitantly, she lifted her palms from each other, chanting a calming melody as they hovered above Elaine's breastplate. The soothing notes rang through the stadium, calming its spectators, yet their anxiety was replaced with a sort of excitement for the events unfolding before them. In the stands, viewers quietly walked towards the front bench or sidled up to the edge of their seats to get a better look. Renoris and Cecilia seemed troubled still, though; their brows furled in thought as they hoped for their friend's safety.

'This all is beginning to look eerily similar to that one time.' Renoris peeked at his equally concerned sister. Cecilia noticed that her brother caught onto her, quickly looking away while she distracted her attention with the massive visualization hovering above the arena. He smirked, 'Of course, Cecilia would be worried if she saw me acting so concerned for our friend...' “Ceci!”

“Uwah-wh-WHAT?” She retorted in distress.

“Don't worry, everything's going to be alright. That's the arena's next champion, after all.”

Cecilia calmed down, smiling as he focus went to Nephiri. “I guess you're right. Sometimes her good nature just gets her into trouble, is all.”

'I know what you mean by that...' Renoris planted his right middle finger firmly on his right thumb as he thought.

“Just... Be careful, alright Ren? I've never seen you use that more than once in a day before.”

Cecilia's remark startled him, though Renoris smirked confidently as he regained his cool. “Right. I'll make sure that everything turns out as it should.”

Back on the stage, Nephiri's soothing melody came to its end as a faint glow formed around her hands. Slowly, it flowed down atop Elaine's heart, and she glided her left hand over to Elaine's forehead. “I'm not certain what ails you, Elaine.” Again with a soft voice, she spoke while the faint light created a string reaching from the warrior's breastplate to her face, creating small, bright beacons on the areas below where Nephiri's hands hovered. “But I hope this technique my brother taught me can help ease your troubles.” As the beacons rose to Nephiri's palms, she closed her eyes.

Images swirled around in Nephiri's head, forcing themselves into her consciousness as they melded together to create coherent thoughts. After several moments, the images turned to a broadcast before her eyes, as she found herself looking through Elaine's perspective. The young warrior's armor was dented in several places, with her sleeves torn to shreds as if she had just been through a fierce battle. With her left hand, she clutched a massive grouping of 2 curved blades and a bastard sword, all masterfully merged together to create a unique blade unlike any Nephiri had ever seen before, and in her right hand, she grasped a dented, jewel-encrusted opal emblem, squeezing it fiercely in her palm. Elaine was left on one knee, panting heavily as she looked at the ceramic plates before her. The environment surrounding them was still the arena, yet it lacked its audience... or anyone else, for that matter, as it seemed clouded by a black smog of sorts. Surprisingly, the smoke had little effect on her vision, leaving the entire stadium open for her to see without any problem at all, yet this did little to ease the scryer's mind.

In spite of her efforts, Nephiri couldn't look beyond Elaine's peripheral vision, and even then, the air seemed still. 'What... What is this?' She tried to speak, yet her voice only reverberated in her consciousness. 'I suppose there's nothing to be discovered just by wondering how I got here.' Quickly, she assessed what little of the surrounding area she could, yet nothing was in sight. 'How was Elaine beaten so... viciously? Someone of her ability, there's not even anyone-'

Her thought was cut short by the sound of Elaine's gasping, as her body was lifted limply from the ground. Choked, the warrior's eyes closed as she held her right hand out at the entity gripping her. Her breaths became heavier and more ragged, as Nephiri heard the clanging of Elaine's massive blade drop to her side. Finally, her eyes opened, although to just a squint as she lifted her free hand weakly to try and release her assailant's vice. Nephiri gazed in horror through Elaine's watery vision, as the prophet, covered in an eery, black mist appeared. It took her a moment to notice, but as she realized that she was actually looking at the elder's back, her nerve became tense as she watched on in mixed fear and curiosity.

As Elaine's whimpers grew grimly more silent and weak, an ominous, yet human voice cracked through the prophet's gaping mouth. “Ah, it seems we have company, young Shurie. As much as I'd love to play some more, I'm afraid your services are... no longer needed.” A sadistic grin crossed the prophet's face, as he lifted his free hand towards Elaine's chest. “Thank you so much for your assistance.”

As the ghastly voice cackled, Elaine's right hand shook weakly before his. Using all her remaining energy, she pulled the emblem before her chest as her expression grew ever more afraid of the beast before her...

Just as the emblem sidled before the prophet's hand, a small, luminescent shield bloomed out of it, just before being shredded by beams of dark energy which shot from his fingers. Elaine's weak yells pounded at Nephiri's consciousness, as the beams pierced her armor, and then the several organs beneath. The sounds of the helpless warrior's ribcage being split in several areas was quickly overshadowed by the massive blast which exploded from her back, followed by several charred, now unidentifiable organs. The man's vile cackling came to a sudden halt as arms dropped limply to her sides, her emblem falling with a dull thud to the ground beneath. Nephiri couldn't keep herself from watching, as her limp body was thrown nonchalantly to the ground, rolling a few times as it left a trail of blood in it's wake before coming to a halt. Through Elaine's still-open eyes, she watched in terror as the ghastly figure floated towards her, it's head snapping loudly back into place. The prophet turned to face the corpse before him, before flattening his hand.

Swiftly, he pierced Elaine's skull, creating a small, black vortex in the process. He dragged Nephiri out, staring blankly directly into her eyes as she was pulled into the air by her collar. The figure still retained his sadistic smirk, as the voice rang through her mind again without the mouth even moving. “Only twice before have I been able to witness this type of energy!” He cackled more as he spoke, ecstatically as his pitch-black eyes remained focused on Nephiri's. “I suppose you were too young the first time... Your brother, too, though he turned out to be utterly worthless.”

Nephiri's eyes widened at his statement, as she tried to scream in rebellion, “WH-WHERE, WHERE IS H-”
“Now now, you're my little summer project.” The voice projected, as the prophet's free hand made a zipping motion over Nephiri's mouth. Her jaw sealed with the motion, leaving her to groan, afraid and confused. Her eyes filled as her question's remained unanswered, though the ghastly voice didn't offer any relief to the situation, “A pig isn't meant to speak. I've let you blossom so that, hopefully, you'll prove worthwhile. Even if you aren't, though, you can be certain that you'll serve your purposes as 'I' intend them.”

The prophet lifted Nephiri's chin, turning her head left and right, before pushing it down. With scrutiny, he examined her ears and hair, before cackling some more. “Though I'm sure you'll work as intended! For a test, how about we turn this test of divine providence around a bit, hmm?”

The prophet dropped the distressed young woman, leaving her to fall into an unending, smog filled pit. Her lips came unsealed, releasing her shrieks along the way, but after a few seconds of falling freely into the abyss, her mind suddenly calmed. Taking advantage of the situation, Nephiri looked below and above her, noticing that nothing surrounded her outside of the smog. She hummed a light melody in preparation for impact, yet something left her feeling uneasy about her drop. Without any pressure from the free-fall, it felt more like she was floating, if anything. Nephiri tested her theory, standing upright in the stagnant space, and as she faced forward, a small-dim light revealed itself several hundred feet away. Nephiri floated curiously towards the beacon, and along the way, small, dark multicolored puffs of smoke passed her on her path. As more passed by, Nephiri noticed small noises emitting from those which passed nearer to her, similar to very faint voices.

Each little cloud uttered one small, individual phrase repetitively, each making their own distinctive, yet incoherent noises as they moved. “Uro, uro, uro, uro.” Nephiri heard, as she listened in more closely on her bodiless companions. “Hau, hau, riz, riz, oka, oka.”

“I wonder what that's supposed to signify...” She thought, as she approached closer to the dim lights. The closer she floated, the more hurried the talking whisps seemed to get, and the greater their numbers, and by the time she came within the light's proximity, the entire area was filled with these whispering voices, making it particularly difficult for her to focus. Nephiri struggled, trying to push through the crowd until suddenly the pool of whisps began diminishing rapidly. Several at a time, they jumped into the light, giving Nephiri a chance to sate her curiosity at last.

The lights, as it turned out, were more like windows. Outside them, Nephiri made out an unfocused environment, dim in the afternoon sun. Just barely, she made out two figures plastered on a tanned surface, one seemingly hovering just above the other. Without noticing, her interest in the work before her grew until her face was practically plastered on the tiny windows. Her eyes fit perfectly into the openings, and without feeling any need to resist, her body fell into a chasm, unable to move amidst the darkness.

The sinking felt... familiar, almost like a warm blanket, as it wrapped itself gently around her frame.

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Re: Chapter 2: Trial through Divination

Post  Neutral Contrast on Wed May 02, 2012 4:43 am

Done, figured that 10 pages was enough for a single chapter so it's been cut a bit short to be added to the next chapter :3
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